The Suitcase Lady


August 5, 2008, 9:47 pm

I don’t know if any of you have noticed, but a significant number of the sparkling new cars on the road now are reincarnations of station wagons. Of course, no one is calling these vehicles station wagons. That would be way too old-fashioned. They are called crossovers, which sounds vaguely transgender.

I, however, recognize a station wagon when I see one. In our family history of vehicle ownership, we owned one, our beloved, mud brown Ford Torino wagon.

Nobody pretended our Torino was glamorous. We bought it because we had two kids, one who always got carsick, and we all loved to travel. Bear in mind, this was in an era when seat belts hadn’t been invented. Our road sick passenger could take a dramamine and stretch out on a mattress in the back. Her sibling could share the “way back” or have an entire back seat to himself. Our kids became great travelers (still are), and we enjoyed being with them.

We got our station wagon in the 1970s – just about the same time our American schools threw out all the geography books. Kids were apparently supposed to learn the globe by osmosis. My daughter told me many years later that she had a working knowledge of geography, unlike many of her peers, only because we “went places”.

Many happy trips and our Wisconsin winters took their toll on our faithful brown wagon. Specifically, our back tailgate totally rusted out. We certainly didn’t want our children to roll out somewhere in the Plains States.

My father-in-law, an auto body man who lived in Tucson, came to the rescue. One day the kids and I drove to the local truck terminal to pick up a big crate. Our almost new, rust-free Arizona tailgate had arrived… and it was bright red.

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